Suspect Arrested in Murder of New Jersey Resident Trupal Patel

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A suspect was arrested Feb. 25 and charged with the murder of Trupal Patel, a 29-year-old Indian American resident of Brick, New Jersey.

Joseph Villani, 20, a resident of nearby Ocean Township, New Jersey, has been charged with first degree murder, first degree felony murder, first degree robbery, and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. He made his first appearance in court Feb. 25, and was scheduled to return to court Mar. 2 for a detention hearing, and is being held without bail.

If convicted of all charges, Villani could spend 50 years in prison. New Jersey law requires that a felon must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.

Patel was reported missing by relatives who called Asbury Park, New Jersey Police on Feb. 9. A car he had been driving prior to his disappearance was found abandoned in Asbury Park that same day.

A Monmouth County Park Ranger found Patel’s body in Shark River Park on Feb. 22 morning, while collecting litter in the area. Officers from the Wall Township, New Jersey Police Department were summoned to the scene and – with help from neighboring police departments – identified the dead man as Patel.

The Monmouth County, New Jersey Prosecutor’s office said in a statement that Patel’s murder occurred at a home in Ocean Township.

Nine months before his death, Patel was arrested in concert with two others for possession of over four pounds of marijuana and an ounce of psilocybin mushrooms, an illegal hallucinogenic drug. Police also found $61,000 in cash.

Patel was charged with possession of marijuana over 50 grams, possession with intent to distribute marijuana over one ounce, possession and possession with intent to distribute Psilocybin mushrooms over one ounce, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bail was set at $150,000 cash. One of his cohorts was released on his own recognizance while the other was released on $30,000 bail.

Patel also had an outstanding warrant.

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In a press statement, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni credited the combined efforts of the Prosecutor’s Office and the Wall, Ocean and Asbury Park Police Departments for their efforts over the course of several days.

Despite the arrest of Villani, the investigation into the disappearance and murder of Trupal Patel remains ongoing at this time, according to Gramiccioni.

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